We’ve reached the final football Friday in September.
Where did the last two months go?
Some coaches are probably wondering that too as they still try to fine tune their teams in week six.
The start of sectional play sits just four weeks from tomorrow night. The draw for the state tournament series will be Sunday, Oct. 13 starting at 7 p.m. in Indianapolis.
Before then though, there is plenty of work to be done in the chase for conference championships.
Warsaw still controls its own destiny in the Northern Lakes Conference despite a tough 24-0 home loss to league foe Northridge last week. The Tigers, who like everyone are still chasing prohibitive favorite and Class 5-A No. 1 Concord, play at Goshen Friday.
Tippecanoe Valley still needs to win out in the Three Rivers Conference to claim a third straight league title.
Whitko looks to make it four TRC wins in a row in South Whitley Friday night.
Wawasee hopes the momentum of a huge NLC road win at NorthWood last week parlays into some more magic against a tough Plymouth team in Syracuse tomorrow evening.
Triton, with its already thin roster hurt by injuries, travels to face an outstanding New Prairie team in Northern State Conference action.
Here is a quick look at the match ups Friday night.
Warsaw (3-2, 2-1) at Goshen (0-5, 0-3), 7:30
This promises to be an emotional night on the Tiger sidelines.
The Warsaw football program will play with heavy hearts following the passing of Gil Jensen this past Sunday. The 47-year old Jensen was the younger brother of Warsaw coach Phil Jensen. Jensen, who lived in South Bend, will be laid to rest Friday.
On the field, coach Jensen is concerned about his team bouncing back in a physical way after being handled by Northridge a week ago. The Tigers will make some personnel changes too, according to their coach.
“This is a dangerous game for us,” said Jensen. “Goshen will be excited to play us. It’s Homecoming for them and I’m sure they will be thinking this is their chance to get their season going.
“I just want to see our whole team battle and put up a fight Friday night. I want us to be more physical, especially offensively. I expect out kids to come out and respond well.”
Warsaw managed just four first downs last week in the loss to the resurgent Raiders.
Goshen, which Warsaw beat 17-0 a year ago, has struggled big time. The Redskins have been outscored 194-66 this season, including a 49-21 loss to Concord last week in which Goshen had five turnovers.
The Tigers are also a banged up team right now. Star tailback Tristan McClone, who leads the offense with 602 yards rushing and seven touchdowns and standout linebacker Seth Fouts are both game time decisions, according to coach Jensen.
Plymouth (4-1, 2-1) at Wawasee (2-3, 1-2), 7:30
The Warriors have a little more spring in their step this week.
An impressive NLC road win at NorthWood last week will do that for a team.
“Our kids are rejuvenated and excited,” said first-year Wawasee coach Josh Ekovich. “There’s a little extra pep in their step. It’s a big win anytime you beat NorthWood.
“We asked them for a recommitment last week and they responded. We told them at 1-3 that we can’t change the past. Our defense went out and did a great job last week.”
The Rockies come in after pounding Memorial 43-6 on Saturday. Plymouth, which beat Wawasee 53-14 a year ago, is led by Michael Hartman and sophomore quarterback Jack Barron, the son of coach John Barron.
“It’s a typical, physical Plymouth team,” Ekovich said. “We have to play solid, disciplined defense against their option. We have to take care of the ball and play physical. It will come down to who hits the hardest Friday night.”
“It’s a big task, but we feel confident going into it.”
Wabash (0-5, 0-3) at Tippecanoe Valley (2-3, 2-1), 7
It’s all about taking care of business for the Vikings.
Valley will host a Wabash team that has been outscored 192-38. The Apaches, who lost 45-0 to Valley in a winless season in 2012, dropped a 51-7 final at Whitko last week.
“We still need to win out in the TRC and we control our own destiny,” said Valley coach Jeff Shriver. “I just want us to be physical Friday night. We need to play with a tenacious spirit. We’ve seen it in practice from our defense, but it has not clicked yet in games.”
Valley survived for a 34-32 TRC win at Northfield last week. The win wasn’t secured until Nolan Sponseller batted down a two-point conversion pass attempt.
“I thought our running game took a step forward last week with our offensive line and the way Chris Torpy and Jarrett Bell ran,” said Shriver. “We just have to take care of the ball better and finish drives.”
Valley could be without star receiver Tanner Andrews Friday. He missed most of last week’s game after aggravating a shoulder injury. He did practice Tuesday, but not on Wednesday as he was getting the shoulder checked out.
“I assume that Tanner will play, but he may be a game time decision for us,” said Shriver.
Northfield (2-3, 1-2) at Whitko (3-2, 3-0), 7
Winning really does breed confidence.
Just ask Whitko coach Josh Mohr.
“We’ve gained some confidence these last few weeks and continue to get better every week,” said Mohr, his team winners of three in a row. “We’re not doing anything different.
“I’ve been very impressed with our kids. They are driven, hungry and come to work hard every day. They are staying focused and we are concentrating on the little things. A big thing for us has been ball security. We have not had many turnovers lately.”
The Wildcats have used a punishing ground game to stay undefeated in the TRC. The three-headed monster in the backfield of Tanner Hughes, Devin Gerding and Trace Killian have been outstanding, along with quarterback Ethan Nicodemus.
“I expect a great game Friday night,” remarked Mohr. “Northfield is very good and they resemble us with a lot of option. Every week is very important in the TRC.”
Northfield beat Whitko 27-21 last season.
Triton (1-4, 0-3) at New Prairie (5-0, 3-0) 7:30 (ET)
The Trojans try to circle the wagons on the road against a New Prairie juggernaut.
The Cougars, who check in at No. 6 in the Class 4-A poll this week, beat Jimtown 25-7 last Friday. New Prairie has outscored its five foes by a whopping 190-42 count this fall.
Triton has lost four in a row, including being outscored 92-13 in NSC losses to John Glenn and Bremen the last two weeks.